San Francisco: Coi
© Maren CarusoDish: Inverted Cherry Tomato Tart
At Coi, visionary chef Daniel Patterson (an F&W Best New Chef 1997) idolizes produce in dishes like this upside-down tomatoes tart, in which quickly charred, peeled cherry tomatoes sit on a bed of pesto and are topped with a tomato puree (made in a whipped-cream dispenser) and a crispy olive tart shell.
Errenteria, Spain: Mugaritz
Photo courtesy of MugaritzDish: Red Fruits From the Garden
A year's worth of experimentation went into Andoni Luis Aduriz's voluminous edible bubbles, made with sun-ripened berries and beetroot. The Michelin-two-starred Mugaritz was destroyed by a kitchen fire in February 2010, but Aduriz reopened it in June.
Paris: Pierre Gagnaire
© Jacques GavardDish: Les Cristaux de Vent ("Wind Crystals")
Legendary French chef Pierre Gagnaire gives the meringue a divine twist. He adds water to the classic egg white and sugar mixture to make them ethereally light—a discovery by molecular gastronomist Hervé This—and shapes them into gorgeous-looking sticks.
Laguiole, France: Bras
Photo courtesy of BrasDish: Gargouillou
This beautifully composed salad by the super-cerebral Michel Bras can have up to 60 individually prepared vegetables, leaves, flowers and seeds, which vary depending on the day.
New York City: Le Bernardin
© Michael TurekDish: White Tuna Poached in Olive Oil
Seafood genius Eric Ripert juxtaposes the high and low in this playful dish of white tuna poached in olive oil, topped with delicate sea beans, crispy potato chips and a light red-wine béarnaise sauce.
Photography by Lara Kastner, Courtesy of Alineabook.comDish: Heart of Palm
At Alinea in Chicago, the always-forward-thinking Grant Achatz (an F&W Best New Chef 2002) serves hearts of palm stuffed with five different fillings—from vanilla pudding to truffle-pumpernickel puree—on five separate pedestals.
© Deborah JonesDish: Confit of Moulard Duck "Foie Gras"
This dish by chef de cuisine Timonthy Hollingsworth at the renowned French Laundry combines carefully shaved frozen foie gras with pickled huckleberries and blossoms from the restaurant's garden.
New York City: Jean Georges
Photo courtesy of Jean Georges ManagementDish: Eggs Caviar
Jean-Georges Vongerichten's elegant Eggs Caviar offers buttery, soft-scrambled eggs served in the shell, topped with whipped cream and a spoonful of caviar.
Recipes by Jean-Georges Vongerichten
© Aimery CheminDish: Sea bream, citrus fruit/peppers, caramelized ventrèche
Among the haute dishes at French megachef Alain Ducasse's grand restaurant is this fish-and-citrus creation in which sea bream is prepared two ways and dotted with colorful cubes of lemon, yuzu and bergamot-flavored jelly.
New York City: Eleven Madison Park
Photo courtesy of Eleven Madison ParkDish: Royal Sterling Caviar "Vichyssoise" of Caraquet Oysters
Daniel Humm (an F&W Best New Chef 2005) of Eleven Madison Park juxtaposes extravagance (caviar pearls, oyster gelée) with classic French comfort food (a vichyssoise of potatoes and leeks)—all inside an oyster.